Corporate perceptions of K-12 schooling

I'm typing this in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming airport. Over the past five days I have had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a retreat with a group of corporate leaders from all over the globe (e.g., United States, Great Britain, Italy, Israel, Russia). We engaged in a number of recreational activities (e.g., fly-fishing, hiking, ATV riding, trips to Yellowstone). Most of us also facilitated a discussion session for the rest of the group (mine was on transitioning schools into the 21st century). As a result of this long weekend, I'm now on a first-name basis with CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, etc. from about fifteen different technology, media, and venture capital companies. Nearly all of these folks have a net worth in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. All of them are creative, talented, smart people: exemplars of the Creative Class.

So what did I learn from these corporate titans, these folks who have money, power, and political influence at levels that most of us can barely imagine?

  • Their dissatisfaction with the public schools is extremely high;
  • There was a widespread consensus in the group that the current system of how we do public schools cannot be fixed;
  • As a result, all but one of them sends their children to private school;
  • The only thing that can be done is to "blow up" the system and start anew; and
  • Charter schools and private schools are popular options with these folks because they are perceived as mechanisms that retain the possibility for innovation, differentiation, and responsiveness to parent and student needs.
  • Of course this sample is small and may not reflect the views of corporate leaders generally, but I'm guessing that they're fairly consistent with their peers. And while much of this may be nothing new, hearing these people talk about public schools was nonetheless illuminating and dismaying.

    We have big challenges ahead of us.

    Big Think
    Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

    Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

    As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

    Keep reading Show less

    7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

    Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

    Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
    Culture & Religion
    • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
    • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
    • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
    Keep reading Show less

    Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

    An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

    Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
    Surprising Science
    • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
    • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
    • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
    Keep reading Show less

    Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter

    A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

    Surprising Science
    • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
    • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
    • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
    Keep reading Show less